07/05/2012 06:25 pm ET Updated Sep 04, 2012

What and Who (as in Doctor) Not to Miss at This Year's Silent Film Fest

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival has more going for it than you might realize. Sure, they're showing 15 features and a whole bunch of short films, but this festival is more than just celluloid. There are the special guests, and the attendees, and the musicians, and the unusual programs. Where else, for instance, might you see a rare Russian silent, The Overcoat (1926), which is based on a story by Gogol -- or for that matter, an even more rare Chinese silent, Little Toys (1933), starring Ruan Lingyu, an actress considered that country's Garbo?

This year, as many as 10,000 people are expected to attend the Silent Film Festival, which is now in its 17th year. It's grown to become the largest silent film festival in North America -- and one of the largest in the world. Festival regular Leonard Maltin, who will be introducing a couple of programs, says, "The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is in a class by itself." And it's true. Here are 10 things not to miss at this year's event, which is set to start in in a little more than a week.

2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival takes place July 12 through 15 at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. More info, including the compete program of films and more, can be found at

Except where noted, slideshow images are courtesy of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

Thomas Gladysz is an arts journalist and silent film enthusiast. He is also the founding director of the Louise Brooks Society, an online archive and international fan club devoted to the legendary film star. Gladysz has organized exhibits, contributed to books, appeared on television, and introduced the actress's films around the world. He will be signing copies of his "Louise Brooks edition" of Margarete Bohme's classic novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl, following the screening of Pandora's Box at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival.